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The Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award is given to the Major League Baseball (MLB) player deemed to have the most impact on his team's performance in the World Series, which is the final round of the MLB postseason. The award was first presented in 1955 as the SPORT Magazine Award, but is now decided during the final game of the Series by a committee of reporters and officials present at the game. On September 29, 2017, it was renamed in honor of Willie Mays in remembrance of the 63rd anniversary of The Catch. Mays never won the award himself.
Pitchers have been named Series MVP twenty-nine (29) times; four of them were relief pitchers. Twelve of the first fourteen World Series MVPs were won by pitchers; from 1969 until 1986, the proportion of pitcher MVPs declined--Rollie Fingers (1974) and Bret Saberhagen (1985) were the only two pitchers to win the award in this period. From 1987 until 1991, all of the World Series MVPs were pitchers, and, since 1995, pitchers have won the award nine times. Bobby Richardson of the 1960 New York Yankees is the only player in World Series history to be named MVP despite being on the losing team and as the second basemen in the same year. Stephen Strasburg (2019 winner), is the only first overall draft pick to win the award. The most recent winner is Atlanta Braves outfielder Jorge Soler, who won the award in 2021.
The World Series MVP award up to 2017 was a trophy that was similar to the Commissioner's Trophy, albeit scaled down and with a single large gold-plated flag.
After being renamed to Willie Mays World Series MVP Award for the 2018 edition and onward, the trophy is a wooden pedestal topped by a bronze sculpture of Willie Mays making the iconic catch in the 1954 World Series.
General Motors has provided a vehicle to the World Series MVP winner for 14 straight seasons through 2018.
In 1977, Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in the deciding game, taking the nickname "Mr. October", in which October is the month of the MLB postseason; Jackson had a total of five home runs in the series, a World Series record.
Hideki Matsui, the 2009 winner, batted in six runs in the sixth game of the 2009 World Series, tying Richardson's record of most runs batted in for a single World Series game. Matsui became the first Japanese-born player to win the award, as well as the first player to win it as a full-time designated hitter. He is also the only player named both a World Series and a Japan Series MVP.
Three players have won the award twice: Sandy Koufax (1963, 1965), Gibson (1964, 1967), and Jackson (1973, 1977); Jackson is the only player to have won the award with two different teams. There have been two occasions on which multiple winners were awarded in the same World Series: Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero, and Steve Yeager in 1981, and Johnson and Schilling in 2001. The duo of Johnson and Schilling combined for all four of Arizona's wins in the 2001 World Series; Johnson had three of them.
Twelve of the fifty-eight World Series MVPs have also won the MLB MVP, the Cy Young Award, or the LCS MVP in the same season. Koufax (1963), Frank Robinson (1966), Jackson (1973), Stargell, and Mike Schmidt (1980) are the only players to have won the MLB MVP and the World Series MVP. A total of six players won the Cy Young Award and the World Series MVP in the same season: Bob Turley (1958), Whitey Ford (1961), Koufax (1963, 1965), Bret Saberhagen (1985), Orel Hershiser (1988), and Johnson (2001). Eight players have won the World Series MVP in the same season in which they won the LCS MVP: Stargell (1979), Darrell Porter (1982), Hershiser (1988), Liván Hernández (1997), Cole Hamels (2008), David Freese (2011), Madison Bumgarner (2014), and Corey Seager (2020)--all of them were the NLCS MVPs. Koufax (1963) is the only person to have won the Cy Young Award, the MLB MVP, and the World Series MVP in the same season, while Stargell (1979) is the only person to have won the MLB MVP, the LCS MVP, and the World Series MVP in the same season. Hershiser (1988) won the Cy Young Award, the LCS MVP, and the World Series MVP in the same season.
In the 4th inning of the 2015 All-Star Game, 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner pitched to future 2015 World Series MVP Salvador Pérez, who struck out but reached first due to a passed ball. This was the first time the previous year's MVP faced the current year's future MVP in the All-Star Game. Bumgarner and Pérez also faced each other in the final play of the 2014 World Series: Pérez popped out.
^Dickson, Paul (2011). The Dickson Baseball Dictionary (Third ed.). W. W. Norton & Company. p. 945. ISBN9780393073492. Retrieved 2019. The SPORT Magazine Award, an annual award presented since 1955, originally by SPORT magazine in cooperation with the Chevrolet Motor Co. (the magazine ceased publication in 2000 and is no longer involved with the award).